My mom lives alone. What legal documents do you recommend she have as she gets up in age?
Estate Planning Attorney
This is a great opportunity to be proactive. There are two essential documents anyone should have that relate to legal and medical issues if one becomes incapacitated:
- power of attorney for finance: this document names a person or persons to make financial decisions for you in the event you are unable.
- advance healthcare directive: names a person or agent to make medical decisions for you if you are unable. It can also address what kids of decision you want that person to make. In this way, the agent named has authority to make medical decisions AND knows what decisions to make. Along with the advance healthcare directive, one might consider having a Living Will, which addresses end of life decisions, specifically, if in an irreversible vegetative state, whether you would want to continue to be on live support or have it removed. Finally, there is one other medical document to consider called a Physician Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment or POLST, which used to be called a Do No Resuscitate Order or DNR. This document would address end of life questions as well. Your mom would discuss this particular document with her doctor.
There are two other documents to consider that cover the time period after one passes away and how assets would be distributed and who would be in charge of this. This would be either a Will or a Trust. Depending on the state your mother resides in and the assets she has, either a Will or a Trust might be appropriate. It is a good idea to see a estate planning or elder law attorney to discuss these documents.
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